How motorists can minimize the risk of bicycle accidents

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bicyclists face a greater risk of injury or even death than people who ride inside motor vehicles. Since bicycles often share the road with motor vehicles, motorists should exercise caution to prevent their vehicles from hitting a bicyclist. Fortunately, there are ways that Missouri drivers can minimize the risk of getting into an accident with a bicyclist. 

The Pedestrian and Bike Information Center describes important safety tips that motorists should follow while sharing the road with bicycles. First, motorists should be alert. While driving, drivers should take a careful look at the road ahead as well as the sides of the road for bicycles. In the event you have to make a turn, scan all directions to look for approaching bicyclists. Additionally, keep yourself from being distracted. Using a cell phone can distract you from driving. Motorists should not consume alcohol or drugs just before getting behind the wheel. Also, keeping your windshield clean will enhance visibility, and headlights should be used when warranted.

In the event a bicyclist rides close to your vehicle, take important steps to ensure you do not impact the bicyclist. Whenever a bicyclist is about to cross a nearby intersection, slow your vehicle to give the bike time to make it across. If you are about to pass a bicycle, reduce your speed and provide the bike with three feet of clearance as you pass. Should you approach a bicycle from behind, do not tailgate. Act as if the bicycle is a slow moving vehicle, and wait for the right time to pass the bike safely. And if you switch lanes after passing up a bicycle, look over your shoulder to confirm the bike’s location before switching lanes.

Motorists should also express patience while dealing with bicyclists. Aggressive driving can lead to an accident with a bicycle if a vehicle driver acts too rashly. For example, a motorist should not honk a horn with a bicyclist nearby. The sudden loud noise can be highly disruptive to a bicyclist’s concentration, especially since the bike rider is out in the open and is directly subject to the horn’s noise. Also, you may not know how experienced the bicyclist is. Riders that are novices may not immediately react to your moves on the road. Be prepared for unpredictable behavior.

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